We are just now becoming aware of the toxic effects some of the substances we use are having on our bodies and the environment. As the scientific community discovers these threats, the legal systems in much of Europe and the United States are instituting laws limiting the quantities of certain substances in specific products.
Children come first, as usual, and thus the laws are most stringent on children's products, including toys. Lab/Cor Materials is pleased to offer testing designed both for budget-conscious families looking to screen their child's toys as well as toy manufacturers and importers.Phthalate Toy Testing
With the recent ratification of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA or HR4040), more concern is being placed on the products that we come in contact with as we go about our lives. Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are found in many soft plastic (PVC) items, most worryingly including children's toys. Lab/Cor has developed proprietary methods for the rapid screening of products using FTIR. Thus, we can tell you if your child's toys contain phthalates in a generally non-destructive manner.
Toy stores and manufacturers can also benefit from this rapid testing process as it is much more cost effective in rapidly testing large quantities of samples than traditional techniques based on Gas Chromatography.
For those who wish to know exactly how much and which type of phthalates are in a given sample, we do offer testing via Gas Chromatograph that is highly accurate. With this method, we are able to prove compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which mandates that all new toys sold in the US must contain less than 1000 ppm of each of six specific phthalates (BBP, DBP, DEHP, DnOP, DINP, and DIDP).
Formaldehyde is an extremely dangerous chemical that is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA. Despite these dangers, many companies still use formaldehyde in the manufacture of certain products, particularly textiles and shampoos. Although they make efforts to limit the amount of this dangerous chemical in the final product, it is all too often that trace levels remain.
Lab/Cor Materials offers a range of formaldehyde testing methods depending on what you're looking for. For parents concerned that their children's clothing may contain formaldehyde, we offer a quick and inexpensive pass/fail test. For those looking to determine the exact level of formaldehyde, we may use a calibrated test.
We have extensive experience in cosmetic formaldehyde testing, including multiple methods for determining formaldehyde levels in hair care products.Heavy metals (lead) testing
Lead has long been known to cause problems with the central nervous system, with children being particularly susceptible. Limits in the United States were established at 600 ppm in surface coatings (such as paint), but this is still a very high amount and did not account for other potential sources. Now, laws are set to eventually place a 100 ppm limit on total soluble lead in the US. While true soluble metals testing is time-consuming and expensive, we can screen items quickly and inexpensively for heavy metals content in a non-destructive manner. These methods are well-established and trusted for assessment of metal content, particularly in plastic items such as toys.
Lead is not the only dangerous heavy metal found in products, though. Cadmium is set to see even stricter restrictions than lead, and many other elements are on the list, as well. We offer rigorous testing of both surface coatings and substrates using the most advanced methods available.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act signed into law in August 2008 is the biggest single change to the United States' product safety laws to date. With it, new requirements for the levels of certain materials have been put into effect. The requirements control both chemicals such as phthalates as well as elements such as heavy metals. The US government decided to adopt the ASTM F963 guidelines for product testing, including the more involved process of measuring true soluble metals instead of surface metal content. For this reason, CPSIA certification is recommended for toy importers and manufacturers but not necessarily for concerned parents.
In order to comply with the new legislation, products need to be tested in three different ways. First, they need to be tested for phthalates in accordance with ASTM D7083. This involves either grinding a product up or sampling from each component in a proportional fashion.
Next, the product must be tested for total lead. The laws state that each component of a product must not exceed a certain level, so we must test each material separately. This includes the surface coatings (16 CFR 1303).
Finally, the surface coatings must be tested for soluble heavy metals in accordance with ASTM F963. This is a process that simulates what would happen if a child ate a toy. As with the total lead, each surface coating must be tested separately.
The European union has set the standard in terms of comprehensive regulation of children's toys with the EN 71 set of laws. It includes mechanical and physical properties, flammability, migration of certain elements (including heavy metals), regulations of experimental sets for chemistry, and regulations of chemical toys. Products which pass all sections of the EN 71 may display a CE mark.
An updated version of the EN 71 is in the works, which should place even stricter controls particularly on the chemicals permissible in children's products. Lab/Cor Materials will work to provide testing for these laws as soon as they are released.